Interference of chromium with biological systems in yeasts and fungi: a review

J Basic Microbiol. 2010 Feb;50(1):21-36. doi: 10.1002/jobm.200900170.


This paper deals with the interactions of chromium (Cr) with biological systems, focusing in particular on yeasts and fungi. These interactions are analysed with primarily regard to biochemical functions, but higher levels of organization are also considered. Thus, the morphological and cytological characteristics of selected microorganisms in response to exposure to chromium ions are evaluated. The different oxidation states of chromium and reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated in redox reactions with chromium ions are presented and characterized. The interactions of the most exposed subcellular structures, including the cell wall, plasma membrane and nuclei, have been deeply investigated in recent years, for two major reasons. The first is the toxicity of chromium ions and their strong impact on the metabolism of many species, ranging from microbes to humans. The second is the still disputed usefulness of chromium ions, and in particular trivalent chromium, in the glucose and fat metabolisms. Chromium pollution is still an important issue in many regions of the world, and various solutions have been proposed for the bioremediation of soil and water with selected microbial species. Yeasts and especially moulds have been most widely investigated from this aspect, and the biosorption and bioaccumulation of chromium for bioremediation purposes have been demonstrated. Accordingly, the mechanisms of chromium tolerance or resistance of selected microbes are of particular importance in both bioremediation and waste water treatment technologies. The mechanisms of chromium toxicity and detoxification have been studied extensively in yeasts and fungi, and some promising results have emerged in this area.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Cell Nucleus / drug effects
  • Cell Wall / drug effects
  • Chromates / metabolism
  • Chromium / metabolism*
  • Chromium / toxicity
  • Fungi / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Soil Pollutants / metabolism
  • Water Pollutants / metabolism


  • Chromates
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Water Pollutants
  • Chromium